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Piers Morgan Tonight

News/Business. Interviews and current events.

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America 18, Obama 11, U.s. 10, Afghanistan 7, Washington 5, Us 5, Israel 4, China 4, North Korea 4, Ronald Reagan 3, Christiane Amanpour 3, Clinton 3, Mali 3, Bill Clinton 3, George Bush 2, Margaret Hoover 2, Jamal 2, Doris Kearns Goodwin 2, Piers 2, Al Qaeda 2,
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  CNN    Piers Morgan Tonight    News/Business.  
   Interviews and current events.  

    January 20, 2013
    12:00 - 1:00am PST  

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in the 1950s and '60s, america spent 5% of its gdp on investments for the future. today, that number is 3%. and it's likely to fall in the years ahead as entitlement spending crowds out everything else. we now spend $4 for every american over 65 compared with $1 for every american under 18. we are demonstrating vividly our preference for consumption over investment, for the present over the future and for our own interests over those of our children. if president obama can change this trend, he will probably not get much applause today, but he will restore the american economy, secure america's place in the world and his own place in history. thank you for watching "memo to the president." if you have an idea for the president, join us in the conversation online on
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#obamamemo on twitter or cnn.com/fareed. you can see our regular show on sundays at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. eastern. thank you for watching. the toughest issues facing america, job, gun, health care, immigration, climate change and more. frankly, can both sides agree on anything? i'll talk to obama's campaign co-chair. >> we want stuff done. we want solutions. we don't need perfection. we need progress. >> we'll talk about his legacy. >> i think he can learn from the past and he's try to do that. >> and what obama needs to do for america. >> he's swinging big. swinging for the fences.
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>> second-term presidencies have been filled with misspent political capital. >> this is "piers morgan tonight." good evening. america has great expectations for president obama and at the same time the country is divided on issues important to everyone. what will his agenda look like in the next four years? tonight we're going to find out with top advisers and experts. let's get started. joining me now is massachusetts's governor, president obama's campaign co-chairman. welcome. how are you governor? >> good evening, piers. i'm well. how are you? >> i'm very well. this is the first i've covered since being to cnn and there's a palpable, i think, anticipation
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in the air about what kind of barack obama we're going to see now that perhaps the shackles are off in the sense that he doesn't have to worry about being re-elected. he's got four years left and it's an opportunity for him to really go for it. >> well, i think we're going to see a president with a new level and a new kind of resolve as we did through the campaign. i think we're going to see some of the things we heard about already in terms of immigration reform and new moves around gun safety. i think we'll see some progress on the peacekeeping around the world, and we will see an emphasis on economic growth, which is absolutely key. >> now, he's obviously facing big, tough challenges certainly economically, and also with the republicans who still hold the house. it's a fine line, isn't it? he's already shown a sign since he got re-elected he's not going to take any nonsense from the republicans and he's being pretty tough on them. but that's not necessarily going to help him get stuff done. it may, if anything, make them
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more intransgent. how does he play that tricky line? >> well, you know, probably he's the better one to answer that question, but i think it's more and more apparent to the american people and i think to the republicans who were paying attention to the american that we want stuff done, that we want solutions. we don't need perfection and we don't need ideological a jidty. we need progress. and that may mean that the republicans on the house side, in particular, who are willing to cut a deal who want resolution and compromise will have to break with republicans and compromise with democrats who have shown readiness to do that for the last term. >> the president struggled with this in his first thing, to get things to a point of compromise. we saw that before with newt gingrich and bill clinton. and in clinton's second term, they did actually get stuff done.
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they worked it out between them. but does the president have that kind of relationship with john boehner, say, where we can feel optimistic that they're going to have a very different kind of relationship but can actually be more effective? >> i think there's a different kind of dynamic that speaker boehner has to deal with. i don't know him personally, but his reputation is that he can get deals done, but then he has to sell them in a caucus, some whom, a minority, but a vocal minority of whom are very rigid indeed. so i think the speaker has an opportunity to show his more magnanimous leadership and to lead the whole of the house, and not just his caucus. and as he does that, i think his relationship, not just with the president, but with the general public will improve, and i hope it does. >> one of the issues he's going to face is gun crime, gun control, gun violence, generally. he's been generally audacious in terms of the proposals he's put forward. there's a reality check within minutes of him doing so.
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people have been queuing up from both sides of the senate and saying look, he may want an assault weapons ban but he's not going to get one. lom like the white flag is being flown already. how can he overcome that kind of dispirting negativity? >> i think it would be a disgrace to the memory of the tragedy in newtown if congress was unwilling to deal with the causes of newtown and tragedies like it too numerous to name. and i think that the president is uniquely positioned to take that case to the american public, and without saying so in so many words, remind people that there will be another election in two years' time, and that there should be consequences for the lack of leadership in the next couple of years. >> is it time, i think particularly for the democrats in the senate, worried about losing their seats if they stand up to the nra, is it time for a
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bit of moral fiber? a bit of political courage, rather than cowardice in relation to the nra? >> well, look, you know, i -- i think you know i feel very strongly that we should grow a backbone, that we have to stand up for what we believe in. that doesn't mean demonizing people who differ with us, but it does mean pressing hard for things we believe in that will make a better and stronger country. and getting some sensible gun control is entirely possible without running afoul of the second amendment. but it does mean we're going to have to confront extremists, frankly on both sides. but within the nra camp as well. and that can be done, because the american people are ready. >> now, there are also rumors we may see your name on a ticket in 2016. do you want to put your firm denials in right away? get it out of the way? >> piers, thank you for the
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invitation, but i don't know have announcements tonight. i'm going to finish my term in two years' time and return to the private sector, which is something i've promised my wife and family and i'm looking forward to it. but in the meantime, we have a very, very ambitious agenda here in massachusetts, and we look forward to working to support the president's ambitious agenda nationally. >> can you make a statement along the lines of i have absolutely no desire to ever be president, just so i know you'll probably be quite interested? >> nice try, piers. thank you and good night. i see my time is up. >> it's always a pleasure to talk to you. enjoy the weekend. >> be well. thank you. coming up, how will obama's legacy match up with the greatest presidents in history? i'll speak to two historians, including the woman who wrote the book on lincoln. >> the white house will hold a private swearing in ceremony for president obama. not to be outdone, on sunday,
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>> i barack hussein obama do solemn my swear -- >> i barack hussein obama do solemn my swear -- >> that i will execute faithfully the office of presidency of the united states. >> a famous club during the last inauguration. by monday afternoon, they will have recited the oath of office together four times. only fdr with match that. joining me now, doug brinkley and doris kearns goodwin. welcome to you both. >> thank you. >> thank you, glad to be here.
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>> doris, i'm excited to finally talk to you. because i've talked to doug a few times. i went to see "lincoln" the other day. i thought it was absolutely a magnificent movie and really just showed me firsthand what an extraordinary man lincoln was. >> there's no question. i mean, i'm so proud of what they did. you almost feel like you're watching abraham lincoln walking and talking and the political genius that he had. in our time now to see the possibility of getting those characters in congress to come together to do something is a great sobering lesson. >> do you wish perhaps that today's politicians from the president down showed some of the moral courage that lincoln showed over the issue of slavery, for example? >> i think that's the real point. you know, everybody talks about we wish the politicians today showed the compromise which the movie shows and lincoln showed. but it's the moral courage and the convictions of fighting for the right thing that even preceeds the fact that then you do whatever you can to get that
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end of slavery accomplished. >> doug brinkley, tell a layman brit like me why you have to have the oath said twice this year. because apparently it's not always the case. so explain to me what happens if it falls on a sunday? >> well, sunday we're going to do it at a white house ceremony. heel be officially inauguratinged in and then monday is going to be the grand inauguration parade and the speech. it happens to be on a federal holiday, martin luther king day and now we're getting a lot of sbim mags that the president is going to have his hand on martin luther king's bible. he's doing the whole weekend before the inaugural, it's all about martin luther king in service. and med gar evers widow is doing the convocation before the inaugural speech. so it's a big martin luther king day. he'll be our second president as of sunday. second term. >> i understand you met with president obama recently?
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>> a group of historians including doris, we meet periodically, a few times now at the white house and have what we call a historians dinner and talk to president obama. they're off the record, but i think it's fair to say he likes talking about presidential history and likes hearing about abraham lincoln. he's from illinois and really cares about lincoln. he's aware of lincoln's famous second inaugural. but also theodore roosevelt, dwight eisenhower, ronald reagan. i look at it more as a form of relaxation for the president when we get to meet him. he gets to chew the fat a lit bit about past presidents. >> doris, you're a presidential expert, how do you rate president obama in the pantheon of great presidents? or just presidents? >> well, you know, when you think about the great presidents, great necessities call forth great leaders. so george washington, abraham lincoln, fdr had a huge crises to face. obama had a pretty big crisis to face. he did accomplish in health care
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something since presidents since teddy roosevelt have been trying to accomplish. but i think most importantly, we'll see now the fact that he's got a second term, that's really important to embolden him for what he can accomplish, and more importantly, to show that the country supported kurg a very difficult time his leadership and they wanted him back again. so i think he's got a shot. it depends a lot on what happens in the second term, if he can create -- i wish he would go in the midterms to try to take the house back. i think in some ways that might be the only way to break this dysfunction. but even if he doesn't get the house back, if he's able to somehow build on the electoral majority that he had this time around, ronald reagan last in history because he built an electoral majority that lasted after him. fdr, too. that's the direction, i think, by mobilizing his base that he might be able to go. >> i watched the lincoln movie, you saw a very different kind of atmosphere in congress, amongst the representatives of the american people, there were people that prepared to go against their party line because
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of moral and personal principle. i don't see a lot of that going on these days. we need to get back to that? >> well, remember, a point of history is to remind us our own times aren't uniquely oppressive. lincoln may have had more of that advantage, half the country, after all, had just bolted and formed the confederacy. it wasn't very happy times for lincoln. but it is inspiring that this particular inauguration is the 150th of the emancipation proclamation. and doris' book is just really influenced thf president more than i think any other book of our time "team of rivals." he references it. his first term in many ways, bringing hillary clinton and others in was part of it. but in the second term, particularly for this inauguration, i would ask people to read fdr's second inaugural, given in 1937. buzz fdr inherited the great depression, started his new deal programs, and we had incrementalism out of that great depression and he invokes that
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in the speech. and obama inherited the great recession and he has a time now, i think, to talk about how we're incrementally getting better but we're not whole if middle class and poor people still aren't part of the american dream. >> doris, is the key to this a mixture of personal courage by a president at seizing the moment, but also thinking big and bold? because fdr had a much worse inheritance in many ways than barack obama. bad, though, obama's was. but you just got a sense of somebody who had his hand on history and thought right, i'm just going to go for this. and i feel at the moment that obama, he shows signs of wanting to do that but at the moment he hasn't actually done it. >> i think what happened is he wan ran on a hope that he could be above ideology, that he could bring red and blue together, and it just proved very difficult, if not impossible. i think he's learned that lesson. the most important thing to look for in a second term is what does a president learn from the experience of the first term?
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and already you see much more fiery kinds of language. you see him willing to draw the lines, and i think that boldness -- i agree with doug. i think the second term might well be bolder, just as fdr's was bolder in the first term. fdr had it easier in some ways. we were in such terrible shape that we had to do something. and the country looked for leadership. it was less clear what we needed in the financial depression than it was in the real depression. so i would say the second term is going to be the mark of what happens in the future. this is an obvious statement. >> doug, what do you want to hear the president say? it seems to me, he's got to produce a vision now. he's got to say to the american people what the president obama legacy may well be in years to come. and for that, you need to have a vision. i'm not sure most people in america are fully clear what that vision is. because we can't keep being a slightly negative, well, you know, things have been really bad, we're trying to make them a bit better. it's going to be a little more
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oomph about it, positivity and grand vision. >> i would go back to the famous caesar chavez line, yes, we can, and really inject a lot of optimism in this inaugural. the burden on the president is that in 2008, it was electric here in washington. a million people coming, our first african-american president. this time around, it's a little more humdrum. we're exhausted from the 2012 presidential election. newtown has all of us in a tizzy and angry. we've got the, you know, problems going on with fiscal cliff and a new debt crisis. so the mood is not great. the way to change it is a big, bold speech. i personally would like to see the president vote gun control, which i know you've been so helpfully outspoken on, and evoke climate change. but with that said, this is not a state of the union, it's an inaugural, and there tends to be more song-like lyrical music to these speeches than there is substance. >> doris, i suppose my question
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of you would be should barack obama, as he walks out to make the speech think what would abraham lincoln do? and what would the answer be? >> well, i think the most important thing about, not just abraham lincoln, but fdr or teddy roosevelt is when a president looks back at history, they can learn from the stories and the triumphs of previous presidents. they're not walking in there alone. that's great for a president that believes in history. they've got a whole layer -- obviously we as historians have to believe it matters, but i do think you can learn from the past and i think he has tried to do that. >> doris kearns goodwin and douglas brinkley, thank you very much. when we come back, a prediction on president obama's next four years.
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>> starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking america. >> that's how it all began for president obama. four years later, he's poised to take the oath again. but what will his second term look like? joining me now is margaret hoover and democratic strategist jamal sterns. marvin, let me start with you. obviously heavy heart, watching
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a democratic president about to make his second inaugural speech, but what has he got on his plate, the president, which he needs to deal with in the second term? >> not too heavy a heart, i will say. republicans want to win, but in a day of the inauguration you can be happy for the president and the country. >> i don't believe that. >> i actually am. there are plenty of us that are perfectly patriotic. he has a very big plate, a huge agenda he wants to get through and the reality of a divided congress. republicans realize they are one half of one third of the federal government and they're trying to get their expectations in check in terms of what they can do, specifically on the debt ceiling, for example. we just heard the house republicans are going to try to negotiate a short-term debt ceiling deal so they can try to go for a grand bargain. second-term presidencies have just been spent and filled with
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misspent political capital that has just eoverreach in terms of presidents looking for a legacy and overspending their political capital. that's the risk president obama -- >> interesting in this cnn poll that just come out, how is president obama handling his job as president, approve 53%, disapprove 42%. but when they are asked how is the country headed, right direction 35%, wrong direction, 57%. they approve of the president but think he's going completely in the wrong direction. he's a lucky boy, many would argue, that he's gotten a second term, given the state of the economy, given the fact that most americans think the country is going in the wrong direction. he's been given that lucky second chance. and he campaigned well. you have to give him that. what are his challenges in the second term? >> the first thing every president has to be careful of in a second term, as margaret alluded to is overreach.
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there's a period after you win. your first-term policies seem to have been validated, that you look at those results and you think you're all powerful. the famous example in recent history is george w. bush. in 2005, remember he came out and did that press conference and said he had political capital and meant to spend it and the first thing he tried to do was pass a plan to reform social security that was just destroyed by the democrats, and then katrina happened. and his presidency was over by the end of 2005, at least the second term. so, you know, i spent a lot of time reporting on this the last year, talking to white house people, and they were very acutely aware of the dangers hidden in a second term. and i think the -- you know, i think what they'll be looking for is not overinterpreting that mandate, putting out an agenda one, that he campaigned on. not doing things he didn't talk about in the campaign, but two,
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trying to find some kind of bipartisan compromise in a congress that is very polarized. >> this is a key thing isn't it, jamal. you saw with the gun proposals. they were very, very ambitious. i was very proud of the president for what he did there, given the way we campaigned for that kind of thing on this show. and yet immediately, the reaction from washington is he hasn't got a cat in hell's chance of any gun control at all. and that's coming predominantly from republicans in congress who say no, we hold the power here, he's not going to get it. how does he somehow get through this impasse with the republicans who are still seething about him winning again and were pretty successful in thwarting him in his first term. >> the president has been clear on a couple of measures. 's swinging big, he's not negotiating with himself, as george bush used to say. he puts out the plan he wants and he's looking for the republicans to put out some alternative and they' gel to the final result.
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that's very different. secondly, he's talking about going to the country and bringing the american people who are signed up nor part of his big database. bringing those people to bear in the political process. but, you know, he's focused on guns. guns will be a big issue. there's one more issue we haven't heard a lot about that i think this white house is focused on, which is the economy. and still making sure people are going to get jobs, still making sure the economy is going to grow a little faster. the president is reaching out to business leaders, people on his staff vike valerie jarrett are preaching out to business leaders. i think that number will turn around. >> the difficulty, and the economy is not just a small issue. it's a huge issue. $16 trillion debt. 7.9% unemployment. these are really poor figures for a country like america. you're facing other emerging superpowers and there's a reality check for america.
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washington has to get stuff done to try and help the national interest. never mind the individual political interest of senators or congressmen. this is about the national interest. how are we going to see this ludicrous, childish behavior we saw over the debt ceiling argument, for example, come to an end and people get into a room and getting stuff done. that's the key thing, i think, for his second term. >> jamal alluded to a new strategy at the white house, which is going to be to go around congress and go directly to the american people. the white house believes the reason they got a deal in the 12th hour is because they went to the american people and the american people said by god, get something done. >> are they right? >> look, it did work. boehner has also indicated he's not going to deal with the president one-on-one. they're going to go through the regular order. the senate is going to have to do something, the house is going to have to do something. they're going to meet in congress and send it to the presidency. i think the president's legacy to go big, to get a grand
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bargain, to have long-term economic growth but also to have a legacy of fiscal sustainability could be his major legacy piece. and i think even though he wants to do guns, even though he wants to do immigration -- >> i agree with you. and it should be a priority. if america is not in good financial health, then the problems are huge for the people of america. but here's the problem. ronald reagan and bill clinton both enjoyed very is prosperous second terms because the economy rebounded strongly. i'm saying economically. they saw the economy of the country getting much, much strongers in their second terms and that always gives you a chance to do other things. there's not much sign of real recovery in america's economy now. and if it doesn't recover soon, president obama won't have much wiggle room really on the economy, will he? >> but there are things that he can do through his leadership that could stimulate the economy. the economy and corporate tax reform. corporations, their outreach to business leaders.
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business leaders are begging for corporate tax reform. to have tax reform being part of a debt deal, all of these things will help get the economy on course faster than it is now. >> listen, it seems to me this is the absolute crux, isn't it? this sort of paralysis we've seen in washington, the very silly behavior that many would see, as we've witnessed in the last two years. this has to come to an end. i'm quite disturbed really, when margaret says john boehner is not going to get in a room and get stuff done. that's what gingrich and clinton did. they fwoet told me that. they learned the hard way when government came to a grinding halt. and that's when they got in a room together. i would like to see the speaker and the president get in a room. i think they've been equally to blame in many ways for this impasse between them in the last four years. i don't want to see them do it the official way. you have a democratic senate, a republican congress, i don't see how stuff gets done. >> the 1996 re-election of bill
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clinton basically settled the debates of '95 and '96. so you go into '97, bill clinton and newt gingrich destied politics are behind them and they cut a deal. was his victory going to break the fever in the republican party? in other words, were republicans, if obama wins going to realize that pure obstructionism wasn't a winning strategy? and i think the initial evidence is no, the fever hasn't been broken. if you look at the fiscal -- the way the fiscal cliff went down in december, not a very encouraging sign for moving forward. i think, you know, this week, the republicans have decided they're not going to play chicken with the debt ceiling. >> i've spoken to senior republican senators actually who were almost laughing as they
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said okay, he had his fun with the fiscal cliff, you just wait for what's coming around the corner with the debt ceiling. so i don't really share your optimistic view of what have may happen. let's take a break. jamal, i'll come back and ask you, what have been obama's great triumphs and great failures and what do you want to see from him in the second term?
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four years has taken the toll on the president, at least with his hair. definitely got grayer. extraordinary pictures aren't they? literally almost turned ashen in four years. tough job being president. >> it is hard. i mean, he's definitely gotten a lot older from when we first met him on the national stage. >> what will be his big triumphs and big failures do you think? >> no question, one, he saved the economy from going into a depression when he first came into office. you see those numbers and those graphs that we saw at the end of the campaign, the turnaround in the economy, the turnaround in jobs, there's no question that was a huge deal. and then two, health care. i think getting health care done, which is something democrats have been talking about election year after election year for 40 years, getting that done is a very big deal. americans want that. they've got to implement it. they've got to figure out directions to make this thing
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work, but getting it passed and moving is a big deal. failures, for me, you know, i'm an old political hand so it's hard for me not to look at the politics of this. but i feel like the president did a really good job substantively while not doing the bhes job politically. i think the style of how they operated as a white house -- i used to always say, it was like the presidency is the fastest, best ferrari there is and they drove it like a chrysler k car. you know, they didn't use the power of the office to really attract people, to paint vivid pictures and to get things done. i want to see more of that. in a long-term issue, i think the president ought to be focused on american competitiveness, to broaden opportunity so we can all participate in a growing km i. >> margaret hoover, i had a checklist of what i believe to be the five biggest challenges h effaces. reforming immigration, reducing the deaf sis sit, gun control, averting climate change, maybe iran's nuclear program.
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certainly you get a sense it's going to be mainly domestic. certainly if you're looking at the tick box in the first four years, i would say killing bin laden, killing gadhafi, the american help to the arab spring, although it's not without difficulty, pulling troops in iraq and setting a timetable for afghanistan, these have all been a seen that president obama would rather focus on domestic issues rather than foreign issues. >> i think that's true. and i think you see that when he takes the bully pulpit. he doesn't go out and speak well. they' had several blunders on foreign policy issues. the most recent one is a failure for america to retaliate in some meaningful or symbolic way on the death of an american ambassador in benghazi. the. >> the george bush administration would have piled in there, blown things to pieces and exacted terrible retribution.
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that's the american way for a long time. is that the right way? would that created, however awful the incident of a death involving a death of an ambassador is, is it right that president obama says let's get this in con tex, let's not attack. wars are extremely costly, both financially and with the human loss of life. >> you just went from 0 to 60. what i'm saying is in 2000, 1999-2000. after 9/11, one of the things we learned from osama bin laden, the jihad dis and jaul kwr strongly emboldened when there was no response to the bombing of the u.s.s. cole. there was no response that demonstrated you can not do this to americans. >> what would you have done in benghazi in the aftermath. >> i'm not a general -- >> hang on. you said i went from naught to
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60, what's the middle ground between taking action and not taking action. >> you and i both know the guy who was there on the ground, who was putting on his social media line by line at the time line of the attack was in custody in a neighboring country until just a couple of weeks ago. i mean, to do -- >> that's not the question. the question is what do you do after the anas sags. -- assassination? >> you round up the people who are responsible and hold them responsible. >> you don't take military action? >> i'm not a general. >> you make it all sound very easy. i give credit for the president removing america from its position of being the world's policeman. when you have a $16 trillion debt and as there was at one stage, 10% unemployment, americans actually would rather their president focus on stuff happening in america than waste
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a lot of time, energy and military lives, you know, attacking countries like iraq or going into afghanistan or wherever it may be. and what he did in libya to me was a really big moment, i thought for america, where he -- america took a very much backward -- not a backward role, but a behind the frontline role, if you like. and let others be the police force. >> yeah. it was described one time by a white house official as leading from behind, which became is a somewhat controversial statement. i guess i disagree with margaret a little bit. i don't think the obama administration has been shy about using things like drones to, you know, take out american enemies and members of al qaeda. and, you know, i would disagree with you a little bit piers on the domestic front being a focus in his second term. usually the way the second terms play out is you only have about 10 to 12 months in the first year to hit the ground really fast and pass your domestic agenda. once that is up, a lot of presidents in their second term
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start to turn towards foreign policy. and he's got a long list of foreign policy challenges in the second term. iranian nukes, how to deal with china. you know, a big sort of macro agenda in the obama administration has been to reduce our footprint in the middle east, become less entangled in that part of world and pivot towards engaging with east asia. and there's been a lot of work in the first term that has strengthened ties between the u.s. and many east asia countries. and obama officials talk about that as a big project of the second term. >> well, that is the perfect segue to my next guess. christiane amanpour, i don't think there's anyone better to talk about that.
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from ending the war in afghanistan to the never-ending crisis in the middle east, then dealing with china and north korea, foreign policy will dick kate much of president obama's second term. joining me now, christiane amanpour. welcome back christiane. >> i'm great, great. nice to be with you. >> here's my gut feeling, either confirm or deny this. i think president obama's foreign aspirations are pretty minimal. i think his instincts are i need to focus on domestic issues in my second term and theless frankly i can get our boots dirty on the ground around the
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world, the better. >> i agree with you. he said it himself. in an interview, he was asked his priorities for the second term. he listed five. none of them were foreign policy, but as you know, and as the president knows obviously in and any administration knows. >> es not your priority, it has a way of biting you in the bottom. look what's going on right now in mali and algeria, al qaeda, which everybody had told us had been whacked to death is not. and so the president and the west is going to have to deal with beating them back. like they did successfully in somalia. >> right. what is the smart way to do that? clearly afghanistan became a quagmire. iran became a quagmire. going into countries with boots on the ground -- >> we aren't talking boots on the ground. >> what's a smart way of dealing with al qaeda's amorphous global presence in all its guises. how do you take on that organization in the most efficient, smart way? >> the way to do it is to aim to defeat them, not to contain them.
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you saw what happened when the u.s. first went into afghanistan after 9/11. they were defeated and they were sent out of the country. in somalia, which is where the first affiliate sort of sprouted up, al shabaab, it was when the u.s. backed an african force and it took five years to push back al shabaab, al qaeda's east africa affiliate, from mogadishu. now there's a president that was elected who is now being held as a success story. mali, the u.s. and the west started to do this several years ago to defeat any al qaeda remnants there, aqim, al qaeda in the islamic maghreb. then i'm told the policy changed to one of containment. you saw what happened. all of a sudden out of the blue, everybody caught by surprise, this aqim started moving towards the capital, nearly got to the capital until the french intervened. so now you've seen the
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repercussions in algeria. it has to be dealt with. it can't just be a little attempt to contain it. it has to be decisive. but nobody's talking about american boots on the ground. this is always the straw man. how can you do it, no bootses on the ground? there will be no u.s. boots on the ground. there are other ways of doing it. >> what is the threat in real terms from iran, from north korea, and from the fallout from the arab spring, do you think? >> the arab spring, we're seeing. iran is a whole different kettle of fish. it's not about this kind of al qaeda. terrorism is about the nuclear file and what's going to happen. we've had years of very little progress on that. incidentally, the day after president obama's inauguration will be the election in israel. president obama has to be able to manage the relationship with the prime minister, benjamin netanyahu, who everybody thinks is going to win, and see if he can keep him from going to war against iran.
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if that's what the u.s. feels should be the case. beyond that, the negotiations that are already under way will require sensible action from iran but also political courage from the president and from this administration because you cannot -- it's not a one-way process. it will take political courage and political capital to say to iran, you can enrich only to this amount and we'll have strong processes in place. we'll able to monitor. people in congress, in israel, they don't want any enrichment. that will be the challenge for the president --? north korea, do you see that as a real threat? >> north korea may very well launch another nuclear test. other diplomats have told me that's a possibility. it's not the kind of immediate threat that some of the other countries are. nobody really believes that north korea is going to launch a nuclear weapon against either its neighbor or the united states. >> and is the biggest challenge not a military one or the threat
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of being attacked but the relationship of china going forward in terms of america's ability to recover economically, is it time that they got into bed more with the chinese? >> they're in bed. they are definitely in bed, no matter what anybody says they're in bed economically, in all sorts of ways. i think that's a relationship that's going to grow and mature and we're going to see how that's dealt with. no matter what anybody says, the u.s. and china are inextricably linked because of the economy, because of how one affects the other. >> and the amount of debt that -- >> that's the economy, exactly. i think what's interesting and what i'm looking to see is, what exactly does this vaunted pivot to asia mean? does that mean they're going to take their eye off other crucial areas, like what's happens in africa with the al qaeda affiliates. what about the peace situation in israel? the truth of the matter is unless israel/palestine is fixed and solved, many of these neighboring countries are going to feel the reverberations. >> should that would be a
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priority? >> i think so so. and so do many people who cover that region. it will take political capital and political courage. without a vested u.s. presidential involvement that is really consistent and persistent, not much is going to change. and previous histories have shown when the u.s. president is really into it, things do change. but i think come back to afghanistan, the president wants to get out of that country and is, 2014 will be the out date. this is where al qaeda started. and people are consider concerned that the u.s. and other forces will leave without the afghan forces being stood up enough to be able to safeguard the country. >> which i would say is an almost certainty. >> i think afghans fear that. they've made sufficient gains that they're worried about losing them, particularly afghan women and girls. but if we want to keep the world safe, i think afghanistan is something we have to look at very closely as well. >> are you encouraged by john kerry's appointment as secretary of state? >> i think it's really interesting. it's kind of a no-brainer.
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many people expected him to be, he's been very close to president obama. he's traveled. he's got a war record, veteran of the vietnam war. and he's very involved in that. and it will be very interesting because he'll also know what the limits are in terms of congress and the whole american system when it comes to enacting foreign policy. >> are you encouraged, optimistic by where the arab spring may go this year or are you quite pessimistic? >> i've been optimistic from the beginning. there will always be bumps in the road. but for me, this monumental epochal history-making situation in that part of the world is positive. and democracy is what has to happen in that part of the world. we're seeing the ugly side of the fallout in mali. but that can be dealt with if the west is willing to do it. you can't pussy-foot around
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these people. you have to be there for the long haul, whether it's politically difficult or not. you don't have to put boots on the ground, but you have to facilitate other boots on the ground and really decide that you're going to defeat and not just contain. >> christiane amanpour, thank you very much. >> thank you. we'll be right back.
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